One of the problems associated with the supersonic X-1 research project was the matter of connecting the diminutive rocket plane to the launching bay of its B-29 mother ship. Even with its bomb bay doors removed, the converted B-29 sat too close to the ground to clear its passenger. However, a simple solution proved to work very well. Early in 1946, Muroc Air Force Base engineers constructed a small, cruciform pit near the edge of the flight line which just fit the X-1. It was then an easy matter to roll the small rocket plane into the pit, tow the B-29 over it, and then hoist it up into the bay. Once secured by a bomb shackle, the X-1's water-alcohol and liquid-oxygen tanks were topped off.
The X-1 program was the Air Force's first foray into experimental flight research and its first collaborative effort with NACA (National Advisory Commitee on Aeronautics). Bell Aircraft built three of the original X-1s, plus an X-1A, X-1B, and X-1D. There was also an X-1E rebuilt from the X-1 #2. They flew a total of 214 flights between 1946–1958; the three original X-1s completed 157 flights between January 1946 and October 1951.
Related category EXPERIMENTAL AIRCRAFT
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